Chapter 16: Progress

Bored To Death

Chapter 16

Progress

*****

When Sookie and I came around the corner to the kitchen, Adele was slicing a cake at the counter.

I snuck in behind her and scooped her up, earning a loud squeal as I set her on the counter. “Old people have heart attacks!”

Sookie and I laughed while Jason looked surprised that she wasn’t scared of me. “I’ll have to keep that in mind since I’m so old… Now… You aren’t practicing baking files into cakes, are you?”

Jason snarled at me from over his grandmother’s shoulder.

Adele laughed, “Not yet.”

“Then you won’t need to start looking for a recipe either… Detective Coughlin called. The killer is in custody. They are simply waiting for his DNA to match.”

So help me, Adele grabbed my head at the ears and pulled my face down to give me a grateful kiss. “Sakes alive! You two make one heck of a team!”

I couldn’t help but smile at her. “You’re right about that… It seems that when we return from our visit, it’ll be safe for you to go back to your house.”

She raised her eyebrow in all seriousness. “Y’all have fun.”

I laughed. “I beg your pardon?”

“I’m not going anywhere. I still have reading to do.”

Sookie and Jason had the same reaction. “Gran!”

“You two hush! The grownups are talking… There’s at least 200 books in his study that I’ve never heard of because they aren’t at the library.”

I smiled, lifting her again to help her from the counter. “And every few days, you’ll get a supply of fresh reading material.”

“You’d let me borrow some?” Whatever I don’t buy.

“Whatever you like. Far be it from me to keep you to myself in Shreveport. Think of how many pounds would be lost in Bon Temps if you were to stop baking for all of them.”

Sookie slapped my ass playfully after she dug a drink bottle out of the fridge. “Hey! No fat jokes. There’s at least one ‘pudgy redneck’ you don’t mind being around.”

Jason looked… more than pissed. “You call her a pudgy redneck!?” And what if I did?

“No. My soon to be unemployed day man thinks of her as one. I need to clone Paulette. She’s far better at the job and amiable…”

He withdrew his upset, covering it with a dopey grin. “She’s nice too.” I almost laughed and had it not been for Adele correcting him that amiable and nice are the same thing, I would have made fun of him.

I had to change the subject to get away from the litany of Forrest Gump quotes running through my mind… “So Adele, since your plans were rained out tonight, what will we be doing instead?”

“I don’t know about y’all, but I have a date.”

Sookie and I both laughed at the look on Jason’s face again. “Who’s the lucky guy?”

“Mr. Poe… We’ll visit The House of Usher and if the storm lets us have lights long enough, we might jump into a Cask of Amontillado.”

I really do enjoy this woman. “No Red Mask of Death?”

“I read it over breakfast while I was waiting for everyone else to get up. That and Bon-Bon.”

“Adele, you seem to be suffering from some antisocial behavior.”

She laughed. “Who’s suffering?! I couldn’t be happier. There’s something relaxing about having all of my grandbabies in one place, happy and healthy.”

By the time I kissed the woman’s forehead, pleased that she found herself so content, Jason had managed to put his foot in his mouth again.

“Well, Hadley ain’t exactly healthy, Gran. She’s dead.” His tone wasn’t seething; he simply thought he was smart for having noticed a difference.

Adele’s mood soured instantly. “Jason Stackhouse! She’s plenty healthy. She was less alive the last time we saw her, pulse be damned. You shut your hateful mouth!”

“Shit. Sorry Gran… I just…”

She cut him off and it was the first time I saw the woman truly angry. “You ‘just’. You always ‘just’.  Think about things before you open your mouth. Your cousin disappeared 5 years ago and she’s only been a vampire for 2 of them… She didn’t start to miss us, her family, until after she became a vampire. You ‘just’ think about that!” Well, fuck. That about covered it all… including why she was so unaffected by the news of Hadley’s vampire status.

“Sorry Gran. I still love her, I just… I was kidnapped and fed off for God sakes!”

“Yeah. You were. A horrible rogue vampire stole you from your house and snacked on you. I guess it makes complete sense that one vampire would make you a bigot… It’s not like there aren’t human ‘bad-guys’ or anything.”

“It’s weird to be related to one is all.”

“Jason, you don’t have to climb your family tree far to find a human that isn’t worth spitting at. Why don’t you have some pity for Andy and Portia. Those poor souls are related to Bill Compton.”

“No Shit!”

“That jerk had kids before he died and moved away. It didn’t occur to me until the meeting that one of his daughters married a Bellefleur… Eric, do you think he was such a knob when he was human?”

“There’s no telling. I didn’t meet him until he was a few years old. It would be safe to blame his maker though. She is… not stable.”

She chuckled. “You can’t blame makers for everything. Sometimes a bad seed is just a bad seed.”

“You mean like Pam?”

She shook her head, patting my shoulder. “You know she’s a keeper.”

“A keeper… Sure, but the price of the keeping…”

She cut me off, laughing. “You already accepted the blame for that…”

Sookie flanked me, laying her head on my shoulder to give me doe eyes. “…And if it’s the cost that bothers you, you could always cut back your expenses in other departments.”

“Oh, no. Nice try. I have too much fun spoiling you two… In fact…” I pulled out my phone with the intention of having Bobby install new appliances in the Stackhouse home, but Sookie snatched it from my hands.

“What did we talk about?”

“I’m fairly confident that you were informed of how I felt about your bratty behavior.”

She giggled at how serious I was trying to be. “We also talked about letting me take care of myself.”

“… Yes, but taking care of yourself isn’t the same as spoiling. What I have in mind isn’t something you would do because you are thinking in the practical.” I reached for my phone and she jerked it away, holding it behind her.

I darted around her, taking my phone back and pulling her against me. “Hmmm. ‘Keep away’ from a vampire, Sookie? Really?”

She laughed, laying her head against me to look back. “I had to try.”

“Sapphires.”

“What?”

“You’re going to pay for your little act of rebellion… Sapphires will do nicely.”

“Oh no you don’t!”

“You prefer rubies? Diamonds? Emeralds? But your favorite color is blue.” Adele ‘helped’ by nodding while she laughed.

“I don’t want jewelry. I’m not the kind of girl that likes that kind of thing.”

“But I am the type of guy that wants to see you spoiled. So you’ll make me happy by wearing it.”

She elbowed me. “You’re a jackass.”

I lowered my mouth to her ear. “The stone just got bigger.”

She stomped her foot and growled, not realizing that she was bouncing her ass off of my dick. “Not a ring.”

“Why?”

“Because it would get messed up. I wash my hands like 20 times a shift.”

“That’s reasonable.” But she could wear one when she’s reading minds.

Jason started shaking his head. “No. Retarded.”

She snapped, “Shut up, Jason!”

He laughed at her. “Any other girl would already be online filling a shopping cart and he just had to FORCE a sapphire on you.”

“I don’t want to be like any other girl though! I don’t want to look like a… a gold digger.” I adored that she’d said ‘gold digger’ like it was a crime. Rape, murder, gold digging.

He started shaking his head again. Maybe the breeze helped his inner squirrels. “First of all, it ain’t gold digging if he wants to get it for you. And B, You already ain’t like ‘any other girl’, bonehead! You’re a mind reading waitress with a rich vampire boyfriend. The boat for normal left on you a long time back. Damn!”

She huffed when I started laughing, looking back to me. “You are a HUGE brat.”

I ran my finger along her jaw, down the center of her throat… to the dent where her collar bones make that succulent little dent… “It’ll sit right here.”

“Brat.”

“Do you have a preference on metals?”

She teasingly snarled at me, “Silver.”

I let her loose, returning the ass slap she’d given me. “Platinum it is. Do you have any other requests?”

“It can’t be too big. I don’t want it to make me a mugging target.”

“I was thinking at the other end of the spectrum… It should be so big that when you’re waiting tables, there’s no way anyone there will think it’s real.”

“OH MY GOD! I’m starting a list! I’m going to keep score… By the time we get on the plane to go home, I’ll have proof that you’re the pot calling the kettle black! You didn’t turn Pam into a brat! She picked up on your behavior! Like a family of smokers!”

I smiled at her. “Earrings to match.”

She hissed like a scared cat.

“A bracelet too?… Okay.” Her cheeky little debates were going to give me license to swathe her in every gem I could get my hands on.

“Oooooohhhhh!”

“You’re going to end up with a wardrobe of diamonds too.”

Her face contorted into a pouty mass of wrinkles and she slammed her ass into a chair at the table. She was done.

I win.

**

Sookie was dialing back her lament enough to be in the same room with me by the time our meeting arrived.

She narrowed her eyes at me as I took her hand, leading her to the door with me. “The meeting.”

“What do you need me for?”

“It’s Sophie-Ann’s lawyer with your contract.”

“Oh…” She stopped suddenly, anxious. “Do I want to meet a daemon?”

I nodded. “You’ll like him.”

“Shut up!”

“He’s a very savvy individual and his manners are impeccable.”

She giggled, trying to relieve her stress. “Is he smart and polite too?” She was making fun of her brother.

I bit my lip. “Damn it. I tried to let that go. How did you come from the same parents?”

She shook her head. “I wonder myself sometimes.”

**

After his usually saccharine introduction and requisite pleasantries (during which Sookie ran away to get a hand towel to dry him with), Mr. Cataliades settled into business by handing over the contract so that I could look through it.

Sookie sat next to me, reading along and completely confused by some of the legal verbiage used, but not saying anything.

“I can’t answer you if you don’t ask.”

She was slightly embarrassed. “It says ‘exclusivity pertaining to telepathic talents’… As opposed to waitressing talents?”

I nodded. “It’s guaranteeing that you won’t be treated like a pet and sent on unrelated errands.”

“Like dog walking or replacing run stockings.”

Mr. Cataliades and I answered her in unison, “Precisely.”

She grinned. “Ok, the list of holidays?”

“Double time. If you’re required to work on a human holiday, you’ll be paid $10,000 per day instead of the normal rate.”

“Uh…”

Mr. C cleared his throat. “I’m here to negotiate. Not just witness the signature, Miss Stackhouse.”

“I won’t work Christmas Eve or Christmas unless someone’s life is at stake… But I’m willing to take Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day off the overtime list as a concession.” If we’d already bonded she’d have easily felt how proud I was of her, but she gave me an unsure look.

Mr. C pulled his laptop out of his briefcase and started typing with a smile on his face.

Sookie went back to reading and after a few moments gave me another unsure look. “Uh… What is ‘working stipulations as per the OSHA standard of human safety regulations’?”

“We have the right to refuse to enter an environment that would be unsafe to you. OSHA standards also give you meal breaks and limit the number of hours you work in a given day.”

She beamed at me. “You thought of that didn’t you?”

“If you get exhausted, it would affect me.” Rather, my ‘until sunrise’ plans.

She smirked… and went back to reading. “Vampire physical injury payment standard?”

I had to think about how to word it without scaring her. “For instance, the scratch Long Shadow gave you… Had he done that to me and I documented it before it healed… It would have been worth a fine. You’ll be given the same ‘injury consideration’ as a vampire.”

“How much?”

“Your injury would have cost his estate or maker approximately $20,000.”

“Holy Shhhhh…. You… It…”

“The fine is steep for a reason. It’s serves as deterrence. You could have incurred a medical bill as a result. Sophie-Ann is guaranteeing that she will instantly cover those fines with your payment then seek repayment from the responsible party on her own.”

“But you…” She stopped herself before she mentioned Long Shadow’s final death.

“I was justified.” I rubbed her back, hoping she’d catch on to our need to discuss the matter later.

She gave a shallow nod and went back to the contract. “The per diem part says that it includes ‘lodgings’. Wouldn’t we just stay here?”

“As a rule, but there may be times that she could need us to travel with her… The occasional Summit or she could hire you to help an ally elsewhere.”

She nodded returning to the papers. “Reciprocating confidentiality… That means… mutually locked lips?”

I nodded. “She won’t advertise your identity and you won’t mention her reasons for hiring you.”

“Fair enough… what about the ‘exclusive to the state as a monarchy’ part?”

“This is just for her. The contract doesn’t include the other Louisiana sheriffs. We decide who you will work for and for how much.”

“You can barter for trade and I can still help friends.”

I gave her a nod, but Mr. Cataliades cleared his throat again. “Majesty did ask for one concession in confidence. She asked to be notified if Nevada contacts you for hire so that she can book you to not work for him. I’m sure Mr. Northman can explain her ongoing dispute with DeCastro.”

Sookie looked at me, trying not to laugh. “She doesn’t want her rival to play with her new toy?”

I shook my head as severely as I could, but the lawyer found Sookie’s ‘translation’ hilarious. “That’s exactly what it boils down to, Miss Stackhouse. He’s not known to play fairly.”

She was smiling at me with raised eyebrows. “If my master is fine with it then enough said.” Hmmmm. ‘My master’. The reaction that caused…

I gave him a nod that I was thanked for.

“Uh, the contract isn’t specific, but if you could let the queen know… I’m starting to think that there is a connection between my ability to read Were and Shifter minds and what they’re thinking about it… John Quinn’s thoughts last night were mostly about me… my boss back home is a Shifter and I know what he thinks about me, but not much of anything else.”

“So you didn’t get a good bead on his thoughts once you were in the throne room?”

“No sir, but to be fair, I was focusing on other things. We’ll be able to be more definitive about it once the Sheriff has the chance to test me.”

He smiled with his understanding. “Out of curiosity, how am I?”

She giggled. “Kinda like a mood ring. You’re curious. In a good mood. When you got here you were skeptical, but not as much anymore… I don’t get anything blatant though; no thoughts or pictures.”

“Interesting. Have you tried having individuals think to you purposefully?”

She laughed. “God no! I’ve spent my whole life trying to separate my thoughts from others! Humans don’t have the option though. Why? Do you want to try?”

“No, Miss Stackhouse. I know that Wybert was part of your test last night though.”

“Oh. Really? I didn’t get anything from him. Between Quinn’s pornographic imagination and the Jimmy Buffet karaoke though…”

“He was trying to disgust you. If you could read his mind, you most likely would have had a violent reaction. The queen did it as a safeguard.”

“Oh. My. God… Understandable, but damn… there’s nicer ways to do that.”

“In her defense, if you can hide your reaction to human thoughts, you’d be able to hide your reaction to vampire thoughts to a point. Yes?”

She grimaced, shaking her head slightly. “Like I said… Understandable, but… I don’t even want to know after the fact, okay?”

“You won’t hear anything from me, Miss Stackhouse. That’s a promise.”

**

Mr. Cataliades used my printer to give us an instant rewrite on the contract while I signed the amendment to my contract listing Sookie as my asset and pet (shockingly, already signed by Sophie- Ann). Sookie spared any sarcastic eye-rolling when she saw that her signature had to be sponsored by mine. I suppose that she’d feel better seeing that my contract stipulated that I accept accountability for her actions if she violates her own. Then again… it could scare the shit out of her and distract her from working…

On the way out he handed me a stack of envelopes and relayed the message of Sophie-Ann’s formal reception of the Stackhouse family… then said his gracious goodbyes.

**

I knew what was in the envelopes and it was maddening to Sookie that I was taunting her.

‘Keep away’ is a lot more fun when I’m doing the ‘keeping away’. She leaned into me after trying and failing to move faster than I could. I’d be lying if I tried to deny how much fun the chase around the foyer had been.

“Pleeeeeeeezzzzzzz.”

“Please what?”

She whined out a laugh, shaking her body against me. “Pretty please with sugar on top?”

I shook my head, smiling, having too much fun.

She took a step back, eyeing me steadily. She licked her lips as she lowered to her knees at my feet and my body lurched as I realized where her plea was going… “Please… Master.

Nothing. My mouth couldn’t form words. My body wouldn’t respond. I was for all intents and purposes, frozen. My only function at the moment was the rapid reaction my dick was having to her unintentional turn on. I did nothing for long enough that she started to worry.

My goal had been a simple kiss… not the mother-lode…

“Sookie, stand up.”

Her eyes stayed on mine as she rose, taking a careful step closer to me… and waited.

“I told you not to tease me.”

“I wasn’t. I thought that’s what you wanted.”

“I wanted a kiss… Don’t call me your master when it’s just us… unless you mean it.”

She was confused for a moment. “It bothers you that you think I was making a joke of it.”

“Yes. You aren’t my pet. Pets are what you see at Fangtasia… Pets begging to happen. It bothers me that you think… I don’t think of you like that.”

She gave me a serious nod. “I’m sorry then… Technically, I’m your pet. That makes you my master.” My master.

“Yes.”

“Why can’t the technicality just mean something different to us?” I couldn’t find a perfect reason to disagree with her.

“It’s a lie for the most part.”

“Yeah well… they don’t have to know that… Screw ‘them’ for thinking our relationship has to be as one-sided as the status quo. ”

“We know better?”

“Sure. They’ll get the show they want. We can both pretend that I’m not a pain in the ass long enough to get the job done.”

“Sookie, you’re not a pain in the ass.”

“I’m a brat.”

“Yes, but you’re my brat.”

She laughed, leaning against me again. “Contractually bound to tolerate each other’s shit.”

I raised an eyebrow at her. “For the term of no less than a year.”

“That means that you have to forgive me.”

“And you, me.”

“Still want that kiss?” Undoubtedly.

When I started to bend to her, she put her foot on the stair behind me, rising to meet me and not only kissed me, but rubbed her body into mine… amplifying the craving I was already fighting back.

She pulled away, wearing a wicked smirk. “Can I have my envelope now?”

I closed my eyes, laughing through my nose. “You’re impossible.”

She did a slight dance taking her prize from me. “All things are possible with a little patience.”

“Do I owe Adele for your practical approach to having a master?”

“Uh uh, boyfriend. I actually got to that conclusion without Gran talking me down from a ledge.”

“Really?”

She cut her eyes to look at me sideways. “The waiting area full of pets and donors we passed at the queen’s palace kinda helped.”

“How so?”

She cleared her throat and focused on my chest for a moment before her eyes met mine again. “Because… My master has only ever forced a sapphire on me.”

**

She opened the first envelope and pulled out the letterhead within… She took a minute to dance quietly to whatever carefree music she was imagining.

I smiled as I watched her get completely taken over with the enjoyment of financial independence as she knew it.

It had been more than a little while since I’d been pleased for someone else just for the sake of being proud for them and I didn’t consider the feeling wasted on her in the least…

She looked vaguely puzzled as she opened her second envelope. I watched her gape… then her eyes sped over the check… then the letterhead again… “Eric.”

“Yes, Sookie?”

She shoved the papers into my hand. “She’s crazy.”

I chuckled, unwrinkling the paper to scan it. “No, dear one… She’s just a good tipper.”

THAT IS NOT A TIP!”

“You weren’t under contract yet. You have to consider… You didn’t quickly bring her drink refill to her… You saved her life.”

THAT IS NOT A TIP!”

I had to force back a laugh so that she wouldn’t think I was mocking her. “Sookie, you saved her hundreds of thousands on legal fees alone. A war with another state would have cost her millions.”

“You’re serious.”

“Completely.”

She held up the last envelope up and her hand was shaking. “Oh! Thank God! This one is yours.”

I traded the papers with her to open mine and it was as I expected. My ‘finder’s fee’. All of which I’d figure out a way to spend on Sookie… not that she’d make it easy.

She stood in front of me going over and over the checks… I assume checking her sanity since her eyesight had never been sharper.

I was becoming concerned with her mood, hoping to lift it from her stagnant disbelief… “Sookie, did you mention your contract to Adele?”

That seemed to be all it took.

She tore through the hall, dashing into the den where Adele was reading and Jason had fallen asleep to a baseball game… his rest was over… Sookie was shouting ‘Gran’ as loud as humanly possible.

The poor woman looked panicked. “Sookie? What’s wrong?”

“I have a good reason for you to go back to Bon Temps!”

“Eric is moving in and bringing his books with him?”

I laughed, but her joke was lost on Sookie. “We need to go to the bank!”

“Is something wrong with our account?”

“NOT ANYMORE! We need to pay off the mortgage!” Jason sat bolt upright, rubbing his eyes.

“How are we going to do that?”

Sookie perched on the ottoman next to Adele’s feet. “Last night, Eric had a little chat with the queen about his telepathic pet… and negotiated a contract for me… I just got my retainer check and a bonus for some stuff that I told her later.”

She practically threw the checks at Adele and her knee bounced as she waited for a reaction.

“Oh. My. Stars! He told you so! Didn’t he? He told you that you aren’t disabled!”

Sookie laughed and smiled back at me. “I guess he did… So we’re going to the bank to pay off the house and… and we need new gravel in the driveway…. What else?”

Adele smiled up at me. “That’s it… the only other thing the house needed was windows.”

“We could have the house repainted and get a new shed. Someone’s gonna get tetanus from the old one.”

Jason’s curiosity was piqued and he finally went to join them to see what they were so excited over.

I raised my eyebrows at them. “Too late.”

Sookie turned, scowling at me. “What did you do?”

“Nothing since I agreed to stop.”

She stomped over to me, with a vicious look about her, putting her hand into the middle of my chest and shepherding me out into the hallway. “What did you do?”

I smiled at her. “The house is to be repainted starting tomorrow and the light tight room was originally planned to go under the house but the company doesn’t want to risk damaging the house so I ordered a new shed to camouflage the entrance. I had Bobby collect wallpaper books and paint chips for the interior for you to choose what you like when we return. The coming and going of painters was to distract from the crew for the light tight room being installed. And landscapers are tending to the yard while you’re away so that it isn’t overgrown.”

“That’s all?”

“No. There’s one surprise for Adele left, but it doesn’t pertain to the house.”

“What is it?”

“A gazebo. A comfortable place for her to read outdoors.”

“A gazebo?”

I nodded. “Screened in with a ceiling fan and padded seats. She said the porch swing is too hard and that bugs are a problem.”

She folded her arms in front of her, fighting to keep the corners of her mouth in check. “So… furniture and flooring and the bathroom tiles… all that is still up for grabs?”

“Absolutely… however… the plumbing and wiring could be a problem in regards to facilitating the safe room. I’ll tend to those problems if they arise.”

She nodded slowly. “And that’s all the spoiling you’ve done?”

I shrugged. “Your bills are current.”

“MY BILLS!”

“By the time you return home, you’ll have missed more than a week of work. I didn’t want the loss of wages to ruin the two of you or cause any stress for Adele.”

She stared at me for a moment and her emotions were running so rampant, I couldn’t distinguish one from the next.

I was so fucking on edge by the time she moved that she startled me by taking a step forward.

“But now you’re going to let me do it right? You’re going to let me take some pride in being able to take care of myself.”

“I promise to not spend another practical penny on either of you.” For a while, at least.

Her lip curled. “That’s the best I’m going to get, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

**

Once Pam and Hadley returned from ‘dinner’ (which turned out to be a feed-and-fuck-a-thon with their donors), the family settled into the den for some visiting.

I excused myself to start Paulette’s message for the morning and was silently followed by Pam.

I tried to ignore her while I wrote to Paulette that groceries for the three humans (and single feline) were required along with Adele’s plans for tomorrow evening.

Pam sat wordlessly, stroking Tina, while I pretended as though she might come to the realization she was unwelcome.

When done, I laid the pen on the notebook and sat back, knowing that she had something to fucking annoy me about.

“The meeting. Did it go well?”

I nodded, waiting for the other shoe to drop. “Our contracts are out of the way. It was painless.”

She sat motionless for a while, locking me in one of her well practiced glares. “Look, I know I’ve been teasing you and being annoying in general about your relationship with Sookie, but that’s just because of how we always make fun of each other. I really like her. I can see why you ‘care for her’.

“Pam…”

“You don’t have to defend her with me.”

“Meaning?”

She rolled her eyes at the question. “She’s more than an asset to you… Even if you won’t admit that you love her yet… You respect her. I will too.”

I shrugged at my lack of an argument and slight surprise. “I do respect her.”

“You’ve become very attached to her.”

“Do you have a point?”

“Not really. I’m only curious. You haven’t been away from her in days, yet you aren’t looking forward to a break from her. The fact is interesting… Have you thought about Compton?”

“At the moment, Andre is most likely… sewing.”

A wide sinister smile spread across Pam’s lips to mirror my own. “It will take Compton a while to forget that lesson. What do you have in mind once you get him?”

“It will most likely take Lorena a couple of days to retrieve him… We’ll need a bartender when we reopen.”

She cackled. “Private pain from the queen for insubordination… and public humiliation…”

“As a message to not fuck around in my area. It should serve as quite the message that I won’t tolerate being challenged… Would you like to shop for his uniform?”

“Oh… I already have something in mind. How much fun am I allowed to have?”

“The sky is the limit as long as he isn’t ‘exposed’.”

“Fucking human laws… I’ll still get to gossip though, yes?”

“Of course.”

Her eyes sparkled as her immoral imagination spun through her mental rolodex of disgraceful items that she could add to Bill Compton’s wardrobe. “I’ll go shopping tomorrow night. I wouldn’t want to risk an online order not arriving in time.”

“You could leave a list for Paulette.”

She shook her head slowly. “Not for this. I’d hate to embarrass the friendly thing when you’re still trying to recruit her.”

I was about to thank her for reminding me when Sookie came to the kitchen doorway with her phone in hand.

**

“Eric? You busy?”

“Pam and I were just discussing clothes. Go figure.”

She giggled. “Sam called to check on me. I was wondering if you wanted to talk to him about things or just wait until we get back… I’m sure you have a bunch to do when you can finally get back to work.”

I waved her in since she’d stopped at the doorway and pulled her down to my lap as I took the phone. I was instantly sidetracked.

“Shifter.”

“Bloodsucker. I asked Sookie if she knew when she’d be getting back to Bon Temps and she started acting squirrelly. Are you not letting her come back?”

“Sookie will be returning to Bon Temps in 6 nights. At the moment we are in New Orleans on a working vacation.”

“New Orleans? You took her to the queen? Oh that’s just wonderful! I can only imagine how long she’s going to last now!”

“Merlotte, if you don’t watch your tone, you’re going to find yourself at the end of a very uncomfortable chain.” Sookie slapped her hands over her mouth to quiet her laughter.

“Oh, whatever. Is it official? Is she yours?”

“Yes. The queen is announcing their protection formally.”

“Their? They who?”

“The Stackhouse family.”

“Why all of them?”

“That isn’t any of your concern. What is your concern is that from time to time Sookie will need to travel. I’ve agreed to provide a replacement for her when she needs to leave so that you aren’t left… chasing your tail.” Sookie covered her mouth again, but Pam laughed unashamedly.

“Why the hell would I want one of your fangbanging waitresses? Why not just keep her then?”

“Sookie wants to keep her job at your watering hole.”

He laughed, giving me more than enough reason to want to drain him. “Like you give a shit what she wants!”

Sookie turned to face me with a deep scowl etched into her usually sweet face. “Is this like a thing? Vampires versus Weres?”

I shook my head, letting Pam explain that most Weres without a pack are far more docile.

Her scowl grew deeper. “I’ve never seen him like this.”

He suddenly barked, “Am I on speaker?”

“No. Sookie can hear you.”

“You’re giving her your blood!” His reaction was akin to what I was prepared to deal with from Adele. A parental overreaction.

I quickly ran through my options and decided to hand the phone back to Sookie.

“You’re giving up?”

“Cutting my losses. He’s livid and on the verge of saying something that will bring about his death. It’s better that I don’t continue on with him.”

She nodded, leaning back and putting the phone to her ear. “What’s your problem, Sam?”

“He’s using you.”

“I know. It’s horrible. Come save me.” Her tone was so dry and sarcastic that I laughed hard enough to move her.

“I’m glad you all think it’s so damn funny. Sookie, you’re in danger. It’s not safe for you to be with vampires. They eat off of humans.”

“Wow. Look… The thing is I’m going to be working once in a while as a telepath. I’m going to need to travel.”

“He’s pimping you out!?”

“No. He is managing me though.”

“How long do you think it’ll be before he lets someone else feed on you?”

“There’s no point in getting nasty unless you’re looking for a knee in your junk… I was thinking that since we aren’t sure how soon I’d need to take off for a job, I should start training a stand in as soon as he finds one. Are you alright with that?”

“I don’t know if I want to get caught up in this shit.”

“Well then let me lay it out for you. I don’t need to keep working for you. I don’t need the money. I just need the practice. I can get that just by looking for drainers a few hours a night at Eric’s place… Truth be told I’d rather be doing that anyway. So why don’t you take a couple days. You can either replace me permanently or you can let me train a back up waitress.”

“You’re firm on this? How could you be so stu…?”

“Hey Sam, you should know me better than to finish that. I couldn’t be safer. I couldn’t be happier. You can get over your jealousy or not. Let me know.”

“Sookie…”

She didn’t give him the chance to finish. She snapped her phone closed and tossed it on the table. She sighed heavily. “Not all men are assholes. Some of them are dead.”

I chuckled. “Excuse me.”

“Holly has a t-shirt that says: ‘Not all men are assholes. Some of them are dead.”

Pam cackled out an ‘amen’ while Sookie giggled. The joke was nothing but a masquerade for how unhappy she was.

She seemed positively defeated.

“I think that I’m going to turn in. It’s nearly 4.”

I nodded as she left my legs to go upstairs.

**

When I got to our room, she was laying with her back to the door. Not sleeping, but she didn’t react when I came in… or sat on the bed behind her knees.

When I laid behind her, she hugged my arm, pulling me closer.

“Are you having second thoughts about being with me?”

She gasped. “No!”

“You’re feeling mournful.”

She huffed. “I may very well have just told a good friend to piss up a rope. It would just make my life a little easier if I could tell him what you’re really like with me.” Not a good idea…

“Sookie…”

“Oh, I know… here’s the rub… I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to tell him that you don’t kick puppies and drain babies. Hearing that I’m happy should be enough for a real friend.”

“I’ve had to defend myself to Pam, if that makes you feel any better. I hear these things happen.”

She snorted. “That’s different though. You and Pam have been together for centuries. She isn’t used to being out of the loop and suddenly you decide to have a personal life. It took her by surprise… Sam is just being a bigot… If you were human he’d…”

“…Be acting exactly as he is now because he wasn’t your choice.”

“I guess you’re right.”

“I usually am.”

She giggled, kissing my hand. “Usually right, always sexy… nice combination.”

“I think so.”

“And swaggering.”

“Maybe a little.”

She giggled again, hugging my arm more tightly.

“Your mood is improving.”

“Stop that. I’m jealous.”

I laughed into her neck. “No.”

She laughed, shaking against me. “Brat.”

“I simply enjoy getting what I want.”

“Uh huh. And what are you like when you don’t get what you want?”

I chuckled against her shoulder, dragging my teeth across it. “I put kittens and babies on pikes.”

“Ooooh, good to know… In the interest of saving Tina’s life, what do you want?”

I didn’t warn her. In an instant I was showing her…

I pushed into her, forcing a panicked squeal from her…

Holding my hand over her mouth again…

Longing for the privacy of my room in Shreveport so that she could be free to make whatever noises she wanted…

Hot throbbing around my dick… euphoric… agonizing…

Her body, shaking against me…

Feeling her trust and lust and excitement…

Completely unfamiliar with love, but understanding need…

Needing this…

Needing her…

Every night…

As much as I could get.

Whenever I could get it.

More…

NEXT>>

44 thoughts on “Chapter 16: Progress

  1. ANOTHER fabulous chapter!! This story just keeps getting better and better!! Loved Adele refusing to go home AND putting Jason in his place. And Sookie putting Sam in his. Can’t wait to see what Pam comes up with for Bill to wear….that should be hilarious! I love that snarky bitch!!!

  2. So happy to see ur update!!! This chapter was amazing, I’d say the best yet and it’s true because every chapter u post just keeps getting better and better!!! Can’t wait for the next one!

  3. I love how she got paid nicely. Very nicely. I hope she quits the Shifter. I understand Sookie is “independent” but hell, if a guy wanted to shower me with things like that I would NOT mind. Especially if it meant I got to spend more time with a hot vampire like Eric!!!

    Thank you for adding the hand over her mouth. That was effin hot. I like a lil dominance in the sex department. You are love.

  4. God, I love Adele! Not willing to move from Eric’s house because of his library. Or thinking the best news would be him moving in with them bringing his books. So cool!

    Sookie…damn, girl. She needs to get used to the idea she really can do more than she thinks she can. And how the hell can she fight sapphires?! Puh-leeze. She’s got a sexy, rich boyfriend. Why is it so bad to be spoiled. That is my biggest pet peeve about the Sookie character. Just because someone actually thinks she deserves to be spoiled does not mean she cannot manage for herself. *Sigh* If only I could find me a guy like that, LOL!

  5. Awesomwe chapter,but that´s nothing new.
    I´m curious with your lil side project,hoping it involves writing,and us avid readers gettin a chance reading it.I know,I´m selfish,but that´s what your stories do to me,wanting more and more.

  6. She needs to tell Sam to take a hike… no one needs a crappy waitress job that damn bad no matter how close they are to the boss.

    Love that Eric is letting her come into her own slowly and the sapphire thing was just perfect.

  7. Great chapter, I love Adel, she is so cool. Cannot wait to see what Pam has in store for Bill. Nice to see Sookie standing up for herself with Sam, hope she lets that go soon! Thanks for the update on this hot summer day!

    BTW – love that you put up the links to all your stories and chapters on the page, makes it so much easier to go back and review the last chapter before moving on to the new one. Thanks

  8. You came, you wrote, you conquered. Once again.
    Too short. I love these people too much leave them so soon.

    I love that Adele doesn’t want to leave Eric’s house. I’m waiting for Sookie to say the same thing. She has an alternative to working for the shifter now, and someone to love, who loves her. It’s time!

    The last few lines are hypnotic. So few words convey so much! You’re the best!

  9. I LOVE IT!! I LOVE THE SASSY ERIC/SOOKIE/ADELE/PAM IN THIS STORY. THEY FEED THEIR SASSY ENERGY OFF EACH OTHER AND IT JUST GETS BETTER EVERY TIME.
    I LOVE THAT SOOKIE TOLD SAM OFF, HE IS A BIT TOO OVERBEARING AT TIMES WITH HER.
    UPDATE SOON, PLZ……….

  10. Wow as usual. I love so much the banter, the humor, the intelligence of it. Adele wanting Eric t move in and bring his books. The whole spoiling thing with the sapphires. I love Eric describing the lawyer as savvy and impeccable manners, then Sookie says is he smart and polite, too. ROFL. I enjoy that Sookie and Pam are on better terms now. And I have to say I love the whole convo with Sam even tho it made Sookie feel badly. I really love it when Sookie chooses Eric over another guy and that guy is pissy. It just floats my boat. I am just a bitch about it. It is my total love of Eric thing I guess. But I have to say I am loving you just as much. Thank you so much. Oh, and I am hating that they are going to have nights apart. Ugh.

  11. Just let me say you are wonderful, I love all your stories and this one just keeps getting better and better. Adele is great, letting them know she’s perfectly happy where she is, and Jason seems to be coming around, and even Pam is getting better with it all, but I just love Eric and Sookie’s interaction. I’m greedy, I want more.

  12. ***bowing*** I’m not worthy to gaze upon your literary greatness…..Wonderful addition to an outstanding story.

    Would love to see a real “heart to heart” with Pam and Adele discussing the Sookie/Eric relationship. I think Adele would have some sage advise for Pam…. 🙂

    Pat

  13. I am so glad your Sookie is considering leaving the waitressing gig!! I understand that in the books she wants to keep a connection to the characters, but really, once found out she could earn a boatload of money with her telepathy, she never stick around to waitressing….. it’s just not logical!! So thank you for that and I wish more would get that. :0)

  14. You are a wonderful writer. I love your stories, and all the thrill you put into them. Keep up the fantastic work.

  15. *bounce* You are just so F-ing COOL! Love it.
    Adele cracks me up, she’s just so sassy and ok with everything. I guess making whoopee with a fairy would do that to a person though;)
    Love the fight that they had over the sapphire and that the penalty went up and up and up 🙂 had me chuckling out loud, which I rarely do….Sookie is a little more sassy than stubborn in your stories, which I really like.
    Jason is still as thick as 2 bricks, but he’s pretty, so I’ll forgive him for now.
    Thank you for another fantastic update and I can’t wait to read the other stuff you’ve been working on *coughlifeanddeathcough* 😀

  16. Damn girl you rocked this chapter. I love how you write sex scenes, they have some many levels. I loved the hand over the mouth. Hot!! I’m glad that Eric is finally coming to terms and internally acknowledging his feelings.

    I love that Sookie got paid a huge amount for her skill, she isn’t damaged, she is skilled!!

    Love Adele here, i’m not surprised she never wants to leave. I know i wouldn’t want to either!!

    I can’t get enough of this story. i love Cannon Eric!!!

  17. i LOVE everything you write…. the only thing wrong with it is that there isnt more (and since your constantly working on that problem, ill forgive you 😉
    please keep up the speedy updates on ALL of your stories (or should i say epic works of art)

  18. Love it!! I want to say much more, but i have a feeling i will repeat my self over and over so: Can’t wait for more!
    I love how Eric was bother with Sookie’s remark of ‘master’ i could see his shift with her, once he had it, he understood it was more, much more!

  19. what can I say that hasn’t already been said? great job! This is by far one of my favorite stories – I’ll be sad when it ends. But then I can go just go read Saints and Sinners again.

  20. Yeesh. Sam’s being stupid.

    Eric really likes to take Sookie unexpectedly. Good thing Sookie doesn’t seem to mind. 🙂

    I was surprised at Eric being so upset about Sookie joking calling him her Master when she was kneeling. I thought it was hot. But I guess I can see why he wouldn’t want her to be mocking about it.

    Damn…I’m all caught up and have to wait for updates like the rest of the world. *pouts in a corner* I suppose I’ll get over it. *dramatic sigh*

  21. Excellent as always!

    I loved the ‘my master has only ever forced a sapphire on me’. Brilliant.

    Adele is my favorite! And I love the family hanging out. …Jason falling asleep watching tv. It is just so normal and yet he is in a vampire’s home. The situation is wonderful.

    I can understand Sam’s concern, but Sookie is right, he should trust her enough – that if she says she is happy, he should simply believe her.

    I love all of your little moments – thank you again!

  22. You should’ve seen the big smile on my face when I was reading your stories.

    I’m so glad that Queen is being so reasonable and upfront with Sookie’s compensation.
    Sookie not worrying about money and not having a huge chip on her shoulder makes a big difference and seems to affect more than just her personality.

    I just love the general lightness of this story!.
    I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your creations (except for the usual -C. Harris owns blah blah blah..)

  23. I need this t-shirt:
    “Usually right, always sexy… nice combination.”

    or this one:
    “Usually sexy, always right… nice combination.”

  24. okay, so i’m re-reading this again…no surprise there 😉 but it always amazes me how you write lemons. like at the end of this chapter, its short and simple but still HAWT as hell!! i really don’t know how you do it?! if this isn’t talent…i don’t know what is 😀

  25. eric doesn’t realize it yet but he is so screwed! I can’t wait until the first night she isn’t there to warm his bed. he’s going to be really grumpy then.

  26. Love this story. Love your writing. So far, one of the best fanfictions I’ve ever read, though there are a few times when Sookie giggles in response to some of the more offending comments or darker aspects of the vampires when it seems she should at least be mock-scowling. Even so, I’ll be looking for other stories by you once I finish this one because you are one helluva writer 🙂

  27. has it really been four months since I last read this story? did I mention it’s my absolute favorite? I know there will never be another story written by the wonderful ERICIZMINE but I just can’t keep from recommending her stories to anyone who is in love with eric and sookie.

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